Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.
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Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features guitarist and blues singer Son Seals. Enjoy!
Son Seals - On My Knees
“You're miserable, edgy and tired. You're in the perfect mood for journalism.”
-- Warren Ellis
News and Opinion
Cloud over Michael Brown inquiry as attorney general arrives in Ferguson
The investigation into the killing by a police officer of an unarmed Missouri teenager has been thrown into uncertainty with a tussle between the state governor and the local prosector, hours before a grand jury was due to begin hearing evidence and on the eve of a visit on Wednesday by US attorney general Eric Holder.
As Ferguson experienced a night of relative calm – at least compared to the violent clashes of recent nights – governor Jay Nixon and St Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch issued duelling statements over the investigation into the death of Michael Brown, shot dead by a Ferguson police officer on 9 August.
McCulloch, whose impartiality has been repeatedly called into question, threw down what amounted to a challenge to Nixon, saying that he would recuse himself from the inquiry into the death of Brown if the governor demanded he do.
Nixon responded by saying that he would not make such a demand. But in a late-night statement that stopped well short of a ringing endorsement, the governor reiterated that McCulloch could step down if he wished. ...
The St Louis investigation has been clouded by the pressure on McCulloch, who has deep ties to law enforcement agencies.
Ferguson Unmasks the War on Black America
The brave and besieged people of Ferguson, Missouri, have already caused serious complications for the U.S. National Security State. By virtue of simply standing their ground in their own small city, the demonstrators have forced the local, county and state police to show their true, thoroughly militarized colors. Ferguson’s righteous agitators and rebellious Black youth have succeeded in pinning down in one small space the armed forces of racist repression in full view of the corporate and the people’s media, so that the whole world can bear witness to the truth of what another generation proclaimed nearly half a century ago: that, in the Black community, the police are an army of occupation. ...
This is the definition of a war of terror. It requires the aggressor to engage in constant and ever escalating displays of disciplined force – which is what militaries do. By refusing to disperse, the Black people of Ferguson have compelled the police to flaunt their military nature and mission before the eyes of the world. The American National Security State is embarrassed. But it will take a social transformation – that is, a revolution – to disarm the beast.
Here's What Happens to Police Officers Who Shoot Unarmed Black Men
History appears to be in Darren Wilson's favor.
In the week since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, initial autopsy findings, police reports, and eyewitness accounts have begun to provide some insights into the circumstances of his death. But plenty of questions remain unanswered, not the least of them: Where is Officer Darren Wilson, and what's likely to happen to him?
Wilson, who was put on administrative leave after killing Brown, reportedly left home with his family a few days before his name was made public. A fundraising campaign launched on August 17 has already raised more than $10,000 to cover the financial needs of Wilson's family, "including legal fees." (The campaign has since increased its goal to $100,000.)
It remains to be seen whether Wilson will face criminal charges, but a limited review of similar killings by police suggests that the officers more often than not walk away without an indictment, and are very rarely convicted. Delores Jones-Brown, a law professor and director of the Center on Race, Crime, and Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, looked at 21 publicized cases from 1994 through 2009 in which a police officer killed an unarmed black person. Of those, only seven cases resulted in an indictment—for criminally negligent homicide, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, or violation of civil rights—and only three officers were found guilty.
A Night in Ferguson: Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas, and a Jail Cell
Late Monday evening, after many of the major media outlets covering the protests in Ferguson, Mo., had left the streets to broadcast from their set-ups near the police command center, heavily armed officers raced through suburban streets in armored vehicles, chasing demonstrators, launching tear gas on otherwise quiet residential lanes, and shooting at journalists.
Their efforts resulted in one of the largest nightly arrest totals since protests began 10 days ago over the killing of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. At approximately 2 a.m. local time, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson announced at a press conference that 31 people had been arrested over the course of the night (NBC News later reported that, according to jail records, the actual total was more than double that). I was unable to attend or report on Johnson’s press conference because I was one of those people. ...
[For full details click the link. - js]
We were jailed with a cross-section of the Ferguson protesters. Most of our cellmates were African American and from Ferguson or surrounding areas, though there were also some white men in the mix, too. There were three recently discharged veterans in our group and one active duty service member. I don’t know how many—if any—of the men I was in jail with had participated in the violent, destructive protesting that I saw. But far from being the hardened criminals some might paint them as, these young men—most of whom had never met before last night—offered support for each other. They were kind to one another. ...
None of the other people who are still there, as far as I know, work for well-funded, high-profile media organizations. Few are white. The concerns these men raised—and the intensity that they have for this moment in Ferguson—runs very deep. Several cited the disproportionate number of traffic stops of young men of color as a specific problem. On a more fundamental level, their grievances centered on a perceived lack of respect from the police sworn to protect their communities, a sense that anything could be done to them and nothing would be done in response. One young African American man from the area positively beamed at being arrested for a cause; he likened it to going to jail with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Not a single one of these men, through our hours of conversations, expressed any desire to let up. This will not end soon.
Ferguson police will keep arresting reporters
Police in Ferguson, Missouri, are continuing to arrest journalists and have said that they will continue to do so because of safety concerns, despite condemnation from media organizations that say such detentions are unwarranted.
On Monday, in a night that saw two protesters shot and 31 people arrested, police detained at least two reporters. Getty Images staff photographer Scott Olson, who has taken some of the most iconic photos of the unrest in Ferguson, was arrested and released shortly thereafter. Intercept reporter Ryan Devereaux was shot at with beanbags and spent the night in jail. He was released Tuesday morning without charges. Sports Illustrated's Robert Klemko, Financial Times' Neil Munshi and The Telegraph's Rob Crilly were also briefly detained by police on Sunday.
Ferguson Police Busted – Attempt To Defame Shooting Victim Blows Up In Their Face
When the Ferguson police department released the name of Darren Wilson, they also chose to release video footage which they claimed was of Michael Brown robbing a convenience store for some cigars.
The problem is, the video shows Michael Brown at the register, paying for the cigars.
From observation, it looks as if he had tried to buy more, but then was unable to afford it, hence why he left several packets on the counter. This prompted the store owner to come out from behind the counter and have a discussion with him, which prompted the shove witnessed in the full video.
Whatever words were exchanged between the man in the video and the store owner, they were not considered very serious, as the store owner nor the employees did not report a theft at the store. According to the stores attorney, the owners were bewildered when the police approached them demanding the surveillance tapes. ...
The store owners did not claim he stole from them. Video evidence shows him paying for the cigars found on him. The police attempt to paint Michael Brown as anything but a victim is a complete and total fraud.
US police given billions from Homeland Security for 'tactical' equipment
Billions of federal dollars have been spent since September 11 on purchasing modern and often military-grade equipment for state and local police. But there is little that limits the use of that hardware to counter-terrorism purposes, and oversight of the spending is difficult, according to federal sources and documents reviewed by the Guardian.
In the wake of the Ferguson protests, much attention has gone to the Department of Defense’s program to supply surplus military equipment to police. But that program is eclipsed in size and scope by grant money from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which enables purchases of similar “tactical” equipment.
Under existing federal requirements, police departments and state law enforcement agencies do not need to spend much of that money on preventing terrorism or preparing for disaster relief.
The Department of Homeland Security would not say whether it plans to review any of its grant programs in light of the controversy surrounding the deployment of military-style gear on the streets of Ferguson. One of its main congressional overseers told the Guardian he plans to “continue” scrutiny of the grants, while praising them as necessary.
During the current fiscal year, DHS plans to award $1.6bn in grant money for state, local and tribal agencies, mostly to aid them with counterterrorism, border security and disaster preparedness, it announced last month. By contrast, the Defense Department’s “1033” program to transfer surplus military gear gave out less than $500m worth of equipment in fiscal 2013. ...
Officials with knowledge of the programs say it is difficult to keep track on how the money is spent. “From an oversight perspective, DHS grant programs are pretty much a mess,” said a congressional aide who was not cleared to speak with the media.
“They don’t know what’s been bought with the money, how that equipment has been used, or whether it’s made anyone measurably any safer.”
Pentagon: Hagel has authority to suspend program that arms cops
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has the authority to suspend a program that sends surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
"The secretary has the authority to rescind and take back equipment that is transferred to local law enforcement agencies if he deems fit. He has that authority," said Pentagon Rear Adm. John Kirby.
Kirby said there had been no move towards suspending the program, but said that Hagel had asked officials to provide him with more information. He stressed that the Pentagon has not yet launched a formal review.
"The secretary has been mindful of the public debate and discussion about this issue and asked his staff this morning for some additional information about the program," said Kirby. "He has been given an information paper that provides some more detail to it, and he's consuming that now."
Binney: 'The NSA's main motives: power and money'
DW: In your testimony, you described the NSA as "totalitarian," and many commentators say that Germany's Stasi history has made the country more sensitive to NSA revelations. But others have suggested this comparison is too easy. After all, the Stasi also targeted intellectuals and general writers opposed to the East German regime.
Sure, they haven't gone that far yet, but they tried to shut down newspaper reporters like Jim Risen [who is fighting legal action by the Department of Justice to testify against an alleged source - the eds.]. Look at the NDAA Section 1021, that gave President Obama the ability to define someone as a terrorist threat and have the military incarcerate them indefinitely without due process. That's the same as the special order 48 issued in 1933 by the Nazis, [the so-called Reichstag Fire Decree]. Read that - it says exactly the same thing.
These were totalitarian processes that were instituted. And it's not just us - it's happening around the world. Totalitarianism comes in the form first of knowledge of people and what they're doing, and then it starts to transition into using that power against people. That's what's happening - in terms of newspaper reporters, in terms of crimes. That's a direct violation of our constitution.
But surely the difference is that there was an ideological regime behind the Stasi and the Nazis.
You mean like putting people like John Kiriakou in prison for exposing torture [the former CIA officer was the first to discuss waterboarding of terrorism suspects with the press. He is serving a 30-month prison term for leaking the name of an undercover agency operative to a reporter - the eds.], and giving the torturers immunity? That's what our country's coming to. That's what we did. That's disgraceful. The motives of totalitarian states are not exactly the same every time, but they're very similar: power, control and money.
Israel Refuses to Lift Blockade, Resumes Shelling
Peace talks in Cairo collapsed on Tuesday morning after Israeli delegates refused to lift the blockade on Gaza, a key demand of Palestinian negotiators. Meanwhile, Israeli forces have resumed shelling the besieged strip, indicating that the tentative truce is now over.
As air strikes resumed, AFP reports that thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza City fled their homes "carrying bags of clothes, pillows and mattresses," streaming towards United Nations-designated shelters at local schools. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (URWA) reported strikes in "North Gaza, Middle and Khan Younis."
Gaza war resumes
The conflict in Gaza has flared up with renewed rocket fire and air strikes as talks in Cairo aimed at forging a durable ceasefire in the six-week war broke down.
A woman and a two-year-old boy – reported to be the wife and child of Mohammed Deif, Hamas’s military chief, whom Israel has wanted to eliminate for years – died in an air strike on a house in Gaza City on Tuesday evening. A third unidentified person was also killed and at least 15 people injured.
Hamas said the strike was an attempt to assassinate Deif and said Israel had opened a “gateway to hell”.
Israel accused Hamas of violating the latest of a series of temporary ceasefires after rockets were launched from Gaza on Tuesday hours before the end of the latest truce, triggering a swift military and political response.
Seven members of one family, including a woman and three children, were killed when a house in central Gaza was hit early on Wednesday. The offices of the Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa TV were also hit in at least 60 air strikes following the breakdown of the ceasefire. Hundreds of civilians fled their homes for UN shelters.
The Ongoing Propaganda War in Ukraine
Having served Washington’s propaganda purposes, the downed Malaysian airliner and the alleged Russian armored column that entered Ukraine and was allegedly destroyed have dropped out of the news even though both stories remain completely and totally unresolved.
Washington’s stooge government in Ukraine has not released the records of communications between Ukrainian air traffic control and Malaysian flight 17, and Washington has not released the photos from its satellite which was directly overhead at the time of the airliner’s demise.
We can safely and conclusively conclude from this purposeful withholding of evidence that the evidence does not support Washington’s and Kiev’s propaganda.
We can also safely and conclusively conclude that the Western media’s sudden disinterest in the unresolved story and failure to demand the evidence kept secret by Washington and Kiev is in keeping with the Western media’s role as a Ministry of Propaganda.
In other words, Washington and its presstitutes are protecting the lie that Washington and its media vassals successfully spread around the world and have used as the basis for further sanctions that escalate the conflict with Russia. Washington could not possibly make it clearer that Washington intends to escalate, not defuse, the conflict that Washington alone orchestrated.
Ditto for the alleged Russian armored column. The Russian government has labeled the story a fantasy, which it clearly is, but nevertheless Washington and its media vassals have left the story in place.
Advancing Ukraine troops take fight to heart of Donetsk
A gun battle broke out in the center of the rebel-held Ukrainian city of Donetsk and residents ran for cover from artillery fire on Tuesday, taking a government military offensive into the heart of the retreating pro-Moscow separatist rebellion. ...
On Tuesday afternoon, the center of the city was transformed into a battle zone.
A Reuters reporter said intense shooting broke out. Five or six rebel gunmen ran through a shopping mall car park, ducking behind cars and firing their guns.
It was not possible to determine at whom they were firing; there was no sign of Ukrainian troops and the rebels remained in control of the center.
In a park near the rebel headquarters building, residents fled when they heard the sound of shelling nearby. Shops closed early, and cars with gunmen inside sped through the streets, ignoring red traffic signals.
A few hours earlier, fighting broke out in Makiyivka, a neighborhood on the eastern edge of Donetsk that until Tuesday had not seen any combat. ...
In Donetsk, artillery fire has struck apartment buildings, killing and wounding residents.
Pakistan Braces as Revolutionaries March Defiantly Towards Heart of Capitol City
Tens of thousands of Pakistanis opposed to Pakistan's ruling parties and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have breached barricades surrounding the so-called 'red zone' in the nation's capital city of Islamabad on Wednesday as they fulfilled their vows to march on Parliament and other halls of power in order to reclaim the government.
Led by former cricket star-turned politician Imran Khan, who now heads the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, and cleric and activist Tahirul Qadri of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek party, the demonstrators have been marching from various regions of the country towards the city center for weeks with promises of overthrowing the current power structure.
According to PakTribune, Khan vowed to create a "Tahrir Square" in front of what he termed a "fraudulent parliament," but promised not to enter the "diplomatic enclave." A sit-in was expected overnight as the crowds grew.
Though police and Army soldiers have so far shown little resistance to the forward movement of demonstrators, fears are growing that confrontations could result if orders are given. For its part, the Army—which holds considerable power and sway within Pakistan, including a history of government takeovers—has vowed to protect buildings but has not taken a strong stance against the protest movement.
How Should Social Security Benefits Respond to an Economic Collapse?
This is the issue that Andrew Biggs implicitly raises in his Wall Street Journal >column highlighting the jump in the size of the projections of the Social Security shortfall since 2008. Biggs complains that progressives have responded to the economic collapse by proposing an increase in benefits that would make the shortfall even larger rather than supporting plans for eliminating the projected shortfall. While Biggs' focus is explicitly the solvency of the program, the actions of progressives can only be understood against the larger economic context.
The calls for expansion of benefits are at least in part a response to the economic collapse.It's worth noting that this collapse was 100 percent preventable and that it was one of the worst blunders in the history of economic policy-making in the history of the world. Unfortunately the top economic advisers in both political parties whose errors were responsible did not have their standing affected by this mistake.
As a result of the collapse, many people nearing retirement saw much of their savings disappear as the stock market collapsed, house prices plummeted and they lost their jobs during their peak savings years. This meant that millions of workers had to draw down their savings to support their families at a point where they had planned to be accumulating wealth for retirement. In addition, due to the weakness of the labor market created by high unemployment, tens of millions of workers have seen stagnant wages over the last six years when they could have expected to see real wage growth in the neighborhood of 1.0 percent annually had the economy continued on the path projected in 2008.
In short, the collapse hugely increased the need for Social Security, which is the basis for the response of progressives. Biggs is correct that the cost of additional benefits will have to be covered at some point, but there is no obvious reason that it is necessary to come up with the full plan today. Part of the cost can be recovered by increasing the payroll cap as has been proposed by people across the political spectrum.
NYT’s William Cohan Blasts “Holder Doctrine” of Headfake Bank “Settlements” With No Prosecutions
Even though there is tacit acceptance, or perhaps more accurately, sullen resignation, about regulators’ failure to make serious investigations into financial firm misconduct (probes on specific issues don’t cut it), occasionally a pundit steps up to remind the public of the farce that passes for bank enforcement.
Today William Cohan tore into Attorney General Eric Holder, and by implication the Administration, for its raft of bank “settlements” which have come is a sudden spurt, no doubt intended to boost the Democrat’s flagging standing in the runup to the Congressional midterms. We’ve pointed out that the comparatively few commentators who have looked past the overhyped Department of Justice press releases into the details of the agreements have been appalled at the embarrassing lack of detail, meaning the almost total absence of any admission of wrongdoing. It’s critical to understand why this silence is important. It means that regulators have accepted as a condition of the settlement that they are to protect the bank from private suits by remaining as silent as possible about precisely what horrible things were done. The absurd part is that regulators and prosecutors could easily call the banks’ bluff by threatening to go a few rounds in court: “Would you rather have us start discovery and see what we can get in the record, or would you rather make some admissions right now?”
But of course, the dirty secret here is the Administration is not just protecting the banks. It now also needs to hide how cronyistic its behavior has been.
The Evening Greens
'Energy East Pipeline': A Ticking Bomb That Threatens Canada's Precious Waterways
TransCanada's proposed 2,858-mile Energy East pipeline, which would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil across Canada daily, would traverse at least 90 watersheds and 961 waterways between Alberta and New Brunswick — including some protected by Indigenous treaty rights — raising the prospect of a devastating spill, warns a new report from the Council of Canadians.
The oil pipeline, which would be the largest of its kind in North America, would transport diluted bitumen, or "dilbit," from tar sands fields in Alberta to export ports in Quebec and New Brunswick. TransCanada, which has been holding open houses in communities along the pipeline route, is expected to file its permit application for the $12-billion project later this month or next. As with Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway proposals, Energy East has met with significant opposition from environmentalists and First Nations people.
The Council of Canadians report, "Energy East: Where Oil Meets Water" (pdf), estimates that Energy East could spill more than 264,000 gallons of crude oil, including diluted bitumen from the tar sands, in just 10 minutes. As spills in Michigan and Arkansas proved, cleaning up dilbit is very challenging. Four years after an Enbridge pipeline burst, sending more than one million gallons of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River, $1 billion has been spent on clean up — and 20 percent of the dilbit remains at the bottom of the river.
With that in mind, communities that stand to be affected by Energy East — which involves both the conversion of an existing, 1970s-era natural gas pipeline as well as construction of new sections of pipeline, facilities, and tank terminals — should have the right to say "no," the Council of Canadians claims.
Victory for Local Action as Coal Export Terminal Rejected in Oregon
Rejection of permit for Ambre Energy project marks the first time a Pacific Northwest state agency has formally rejected a coal export facility
Dealing a "severe blow" to the export of coal out of the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) on Monday rejected a critical permit for the construction of Ambre Energy's Morrow Pacific export terminal on the Columbia River.
"Ambre’s dirty coal project would have sent hundreds of coal trains through the region, thousands of coal barges down the Columbia River, and further disrupted our climate with dangerous carbon pollution," writes water conservation group Columbia Riverkeeper. "DSL’s decision is a defining win for clean water, salmon, and our communities."
Ambre, an Australian company, was seeking permission to build a permanent dock in Boardman, Oregon as part of their proposed coal export terminal, which environmentalists said would both hasten carbon pollution from increased coal consumption and threaten key waterways. The terminal would provide an outlet for over 8 million tons of coal which would be carried by rail each year from the Powder River Basin in southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming to barges in the Port of Morrow.
Over the past few months, more than 20,000 concerned citizens submitted public comments opposing the project, including over 3,000 medical professionals and public health advocates.
The Arctic Is Losing an Alarming Amount of Snow
Snow depth on sea ice has fallen by as much as half in the past 50 years.
Arctic snow helps protect the underlying ice from melting under the sun and plays important roles in the survival of wildlife of all sizes. Scientists have long had an interest in its fluctuations, with the Soviets being among the first to measure it with meter sticks in the 1950s. More recently, researchers have conducted flyovers and detailed ground surveys to examine the disappearing snow. In the western Arctic, springtime accumulations have gone from 14 inches to 9 inches today, and in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas around Alaska from 13 inches down to a mere 6.
The stunning loss of snow is detailed in a new study from NASA, the University of Washington, and others (the full paper is behind a paywall at the Journal of Geophysical Research). The scientists believe there's less snow because the seas are freezing later in the year, and "heavy snowfalls in September and October now fall into the open ocean," writes NASA. Says one of the space agency's scientists who participated in the study, Son Nghiem: "We knew Arctic sea ice was decreasing, but the snow cover has become so thin that its shield has become a veil."
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus
A Little Night Music
Son Seals - Jelly Jelly
Son Seals - Cotton Pickin' Blues
Son Seals - Don't You Lie to Me
Son Seals - I Can't Hold Out
Son Seals - Bad Luck Child
Son Seals - Bad Axe
Son Seals - I Can't Hear Nothing But The Blues
Son Seals - Dear Son
Son Seals - Don't Pick Me For Your Fool
Son Seals - Before The Bullets Fly
Son Seals - Sadie
Son Seals - Going Back Home
Son Seals - Everyday I Have The Blues
Son Seals & The Chicago Fire Band-The Sun is Shinin'
Son Seals - Buzzard Luck
It's National Pie Day!
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Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.
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